Friday, July 9, 2010

{life} thoughts on dance

I feel as though I haven't really gotten too personal with any of my posts thus far. They have all been very cut and dry and quickly written. I have discovered that if I am going to keep a passion to continue to write on here I am going to need to get more "down and dirty" about my thoughts, feelings and opinions. With that being said, I will begin with talking about dance.

I was an avid dancer from age 3 (yes, I did wear a little chicken costume and wander around the stage aimlessly like in those videos submitted to America's Funniest Home Videos) until age 14. Eleven whole years flew by in what seems now to be a pinch of time. I didn't quit willingly, well not at first that is. It started with a tingling sensation in my left foot and leg and ended with a diagnosis of a herniated disk in my lower back. My orthopedic doctor joked with me last time I went in.  
Him: "Are your ears burning?"
Me: "What do you mean?"
Him: "I always tell all my patients about you. You are the youngest patient I have ever had with a herniated disk. I always tell them about your success in getting back into a normal life pain-free."
 Why, thank you doc. So, as you see, my injury was not exactly common for someone of my age and with my strength (considering I danced 6 days a week for hours upon end). Having to tell all of my dance friends and teachers that I would not be coming back for a while was devastating for me. While the hours were long, and the work intensive, dance was one thing that made me truly happy. It was my get-a-way from the constancy of homework and tests.  I loved the costumes and the glitz and glamor of competitions and conventions as well as the family I formed in the dance community. Dancers are extremely open and honest people. You leave everything off of the dance floor. Nothing else seems important when the music turns on and you start to feel it coursing through your body to the point that you cannot voluntarily keep your body still. I did an entire year of physical therapy and tons of stretching to keep my body fit for the dance world. Looking back now, I know that I could have easily jumped back into my classes and competitions. At the time however, everything seemed utterly impossible. I was nowhere near ready (I felt then) to take class with my old dance company members (the girls I competed with against other studios) and I was way too advanced to be dancing with the normal classes (the girls that danced about once a week just for fun.) Even after a year of being gone without leaping, or turning, and hardly moving, my technique and ability was higher than anyone in the intermediate classes. While that sounds snobbish, it is simply the truth. I guess dancing for that long with such advanced students made it impossible for me to dumb down to a level of just a pure-fun dance class.

My decision to quit dance was rash. I have always been extremely stubborn and a bit of a drama queen so when my mom asked me to reconsider registering for my company dance classes again I refused. I would say, "Mom, I will never be able to keep up with them ever again. I am too far behind, it's impossible." It is sad to say that I lost my passion for dance (if only temporarily) during that year of physical therapy. I claimed my back was too weak, I was too behind, I would never be the dancer I was. In reality I could have conquered all of the above easily by strengthening my core again and by being all-around careful until I knew my back was up to par. I think a huge part of why I wanted to quit dance forever was not because of my injury but because of the stage of my life I was in. I loved my dance friends, but I felt as though I didn't know my school friends well enough. We were more acquaintances than anything. I was transferring from my small middle school to a huge high school, where the possibilities to get involved were endless. Maybe I was being rational when I realized that I would rather spend more of my time getting involved in school activities with friends than spend time in a studio rehearsing for 6 hours straight. While getting involved in high school did help me get into a great college, I wish I had made the opposite decision. I feel as though a little piece of me is still empty without dance in my life to the fullest extent. I don't think that most people that know me now know just how much this art means to me. I think that everything about it is absolutely beautiful. Everything really does happen for a reason however. I feel that this post makes me sound like an empty and unhappy person, but that is furthest from the truth. I have amazing friends and an incredibly supportive family. I know that if I had chosen to continue on with dance my life would be in a completely different place right now. I may not have gone to Florida State, I may not have joined my sorority, I may not already know what I want to do with the rest of my life and I may not have met some of the most incredible people to ever touch my life. Just because I can no longer personally dance as I used to doesn't mean that I cannot enjoy watching others (and oh, do I ever.)

The reason I even began to think about writing this post was because of tonight's SYTYCD episode (Top 8 Elimination). Alex being cut from this season for his Achilles's tendon injury was heartbreaking. He is truly one of the most gifted and breathtaking dancers that has ever graced the SYTYCD stage. I teared up watching the judges explain his injury and during his goodbye speech and tape (and I'm not afraid to admit it!) I cannot wait to see him perform again and I am wishing him a safe surgery and a speedy recovery. If you do not watch the show I really challenge you to. Some weeks are better than others like all competition reality shows, but this one has more heart than any other I have ever seen... every week! Here are a few links to some of my favorite (and the poster's too) dances from, in my opinion, the best season... Season 4!

I hope you check out the youtube videos above and come to appreciate this beautiful art as much as I do.

xox, Jen

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